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Dare to Fail

Failure is neither obscene or fatal. Yet, the fear of it can alter every choice we make and kill our hopes and dreams. Everybody makes mistakes. Like toddlers learning to walk, missteps and stumbles teach us how to pick ourselves up.

But when we deal with our mistakes negatively and internalize the fear of failure, they can inhibit our growth and plans. We seek options that feel safer. Hiding in the corners of your comfort zone is a sure way to limit your results. It also leads to feelings of regret. When positively channeled, however, fear of failure can be used to motivate you to do your best work. It’s a choice. Fear is self-created.

Taking a courageous stance does not mean your feelings of fear magically disappear. But if you move forward, with shaky knees and trembling voice, they eventually soften and subside. If you’re afraid, do it anyway. Here 9 ways to help you put the fear of failure behind you.

  • Understand that mistakes are part of the process. You’re extremely lucky if you figure out the right way to do something with your first effort. Short-term mistakes are much more common. Anytime you want to accomplish something significant, you can expect failures to be part of the process. Learn from them and keep improving your process until you’re successful.

  • Realize that failure is only a temporary condition. A single failure isn’t a permanent condition. Failure is like a rainy day. Sunny days always show up again.

  • Find something meaningful. With enough motivation, fear isn’t an issue. For example, if you’re feeling overly bashful at work, maybe you aren’t working in the right field or with the right company for you. When you have enough passion for something, fear is much easier to overcome.

  • Failure isn’t personal. Failing only means that your approach wasn’t the best option. It doesn’t say anything about you as a person. Even the most talented people deal with failure on a regular basis. A wrong choice isn’t indicative of a fatal flaw.

  • Stay present. You can’t worry if your mind isn’t living in the future. It’s only when you project a negative outcome that you become anxious. Reality is happening right now. The future is only a daydream. If you’re going to think about the future, imagine success. At this very second, you’re okay. You’ll be okay in the next second, too.

  • Learn to enjoy fear. Seriously. If you can't learn to enjoy it, tolerate it. If your life isn’t in danger, being afraid is a sign that you’re doing something new. Only new behaviors will change your life. No one wants to live the same day repeatedly. That uncomfortable feeling is a sign that something amazing might happen.

  • Minimize fear by taking action. The people that are most afraid tend to be the most paralyzed, but they didn’t start out that way. You weren’t born afraid of the things that you fear today. But by giving in to fear, you teach your brain that fear is an effective way to control your behavior. It will continue ratcheting up the fear because it knows it works.

  • Ignoring fear and taking action has the opposite effect. You can teach yourself that fear doesn’t impact your behavior. In time, the amount of fear you feel will decrease.

  • Look ahead. If you continue to allow fear to dictate your behavior, what will your life look like in 20 years? How would your life be different if fear didn’t control your actions? Would you rather be a little uncomfortable now or be filled with regret for the rest of your life?

  • View failure as an opportunity to learn. Failure might provide a small sting, but the information you gain is invaluable. A few, small improvements are often enough to turn a failure into a success. Look for the lesson and apply it to your next attempt.

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